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Bahr El-Baqar primary school bombing

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Bahr El-Baqar primary school bombing
Bahr El-Baqar Massacre (5).jpg
School after bombing
LocationBahr El-Baqar, Egypt
DateApril 8, 1970
Attack type
Aerial bombing
PerpetratorIsraeli Air Force
  • Mistake (Israeli and western sources)
  • Escalation to impose ceasefire (Arab and Egyptian sources)

The Bahr el-Baqar primary school in the Egyptian village of Bahr el-Baqar (south of Port Said, in the eastern province of Sharqia) was bombed by the Israeli Air Force on 8 April 1970, killing 46 children. Of the 130 children who attended the school, 46 were killed and over 50 wounded. The school itself was completely demolished.[1][2][3] The attack was carried out by Israeli Air Force F4 Phantom II fighter bombers, at 9:20 am on Wednesday April 8. Five bombs and two air-to-ground missiles struck the single-floor school, which consisted of three classrooms.[1][2]

There have been significant dispute between both parties as well as their allies over the motive of the attack and, consequently, its appropriate designation. While Egyptian and Arab sources regard the attack as a deliberate massacre, nay a war crime, intended to impose a ceasefire;[3][4][5][6] Israeli and Western sources consider it to be a human error on the Israeli side made under the impression that the school was an Egyptian military installation.[7][8][9][10][11]

The attack was conducted as part of a series of deep penetration strikes named Operation Priha, which also included the earlier bombing of Abu Zaabal factory, where 80 civilian workers were killed. While the Abu Zaabal bombing was immediately admitted by Israeli government to be mistaken, the bombing of Bahr El-Baqar was repeatedly defended by Moshe Dayan, then-defense minister, and Yosef Tekoah, Israeli envoy to the UN at the time.[12] Official sources claimed to have collected images of the school by reconnaissance satellite consistent with military settings and that some students were receiving military training.[12]


Memorial to the victims of the bombing.
Injured victims

The bombing occurred during the War of Attrition (1967–1970) as part of Operation Priha's deep penetration strategy which aimed to relieve the conflict along the line of contact on the Suez Canal by striking deep targets and to urge Nasser into a truce.


When asked about the incident, Moshe Dayan said: "We have checked and re-checked and there was no mistake this time" and "Maybe the Egyptians put elementary students in a military base." Speaking about the incident, Egyptian commander Abdelatim Ramadan said: "Actually, two targets were hit by the Israelis. The first target was a group of military bases about 30 km from the Suez Canal, which were targeted before, on the night of 18–19 December 1969. The second target was the Bahr El-Baqar primary school."[13]

The attack is considered a contributing factor to Israel's decision to suspend other deep strikes originally planned in operation Priha.[11]

In 2016, reports circulated about prospective reimbursments for the historical killings being planned to further promote Egypt–Israel relations.[14]


  1. ^ a b Hammad, Gamal (8–14 Oct 1998). "Setting the Stage". Al-Ahram Weekly (Online) (398). Archived from the original on 5 Jun 2013. Retrieved 25 Jan 2021.CS1 maint: date format (link)
  2. ^ a b "Years of Horror, Years of Hope". Al-Ahram Weekly (462). 30 Dec 1999 – 5 Jan 2000. 1960 - 1969. Archived from the original on 26 Aug 2015. Retrieved 25 Jan 2021.CS1 maint: date format (link)
  3. ^ a b Ali, Randa (8 Apr 2016). "Egypt's Bahr Al-Baqar: Flashbacks of an Israeli war crime". Ahram Online. Archived from the original on 1 May 2020. Retrieved 25 Jan 2021.
  4. ^ Muhammad Ali, Esraa; Nady, Moataz (8 Apr 2013). «بحر البقر».. عندما تصبح مدرسة «هدفًا عسكريًا» لإسرائيل [Bahr El-Baqar .. When a School Turns into a "Military Target" for Israel]. Al-Masry Al-Youm. Archived from the original on 6 May 2017. Retrieved 25 Jan 2021.
  5. ^ Weiss, Philip (2018-04-01). "A brief, unhappy history of Israeli massacres". Mondoweiss. Retrieved 2021-01-25.
  6. ^ 49 عاما على مجزرة مدرسة بحر البقر [49 Years since the Massacre of Bahr El-Baqar School]. Al Jazeera (in Arabic). 7 April 2019. Retrieved 25 Jan 2021.
  7. ^ "Middle East: In Cold Blood". Time magazine. 1970-06-01. Archived from the original on April 28, 2009.
  8. ^ Shalom, Danny (2007). רוח רפאים מעל קהיר : חיל האויר המלחמת ההתשה (1967-1970) [Phantoms over Cairo - Israeli Air Force in the War of Attrition (1967-1970)] (in Hebrew). Bavir Aviation & Space Publications. ISBN 978-965-90455-2-5.
  9. ^ Bregman, Ahron (22 January 2016). Israel's Wars: A History Since 1947. London; New York: Taylor & Francis. p. 103. ISBN 978-1-317-29637-9.
  10. ^ Landau, David (10 January 2014). Arik: The Life of Ariel Sharon. New York: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Ch. 2: Probationer. ISBN 978-0-385-35109-6. Israel’s deep bombing campaign came to a peremptory end in April, when Phantom jets mistakenly bombed an elementary school, killing forty-seven children and injuring another fifty.
  11. ^ a b Dunstan, Simon (20 September 2012). Israeli Fortifications of the October War 1973. Oxford; New York: Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 34. ISBN 978-1-78200-431-8. Retrieved 25 January 2021. On 13 April 1970, Israel suspended its deep penetration raids into Egypt for fear of provoking the Soviet Union further, although a botched bombing raid that killed 47 Egyptian children and wounded 30 others in an elementary school in the village of Bahr El-Bakr was a contributory factor.
  12. ^ a b "Dayan States if Israeli Planes Did Hit School It Was Inside Military Installation". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 10 Apr 1970. Retrieved 25 Jan 2021.
  13. ^ Kabha, Mustafa (1995). חרב אל־אסתנזאף : מלחמת ההתשה בראי המקורות המצריים [The War of Attrition as Reflected in Egyptian Sources] (in Hebrew). Yad Tabenkin; Tel-Aviv University. p. 107.
  14. ^ Soliman, Mohamed (10 May 2016). "Renewing the Alliance: How Egypt and Israel Saved Their Relationship". Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 25 Jan 2021.

Coordinates: 30°51′35″N 31°54′54″E / 30.85972°N 31.91500°E / 30.85972; 31.91500